This article makes me feel a little weird because it runs counter to a longstanding peeve I’ve had with internet writing information. Namely the widespread impression that anybody with a keyboard is equally qualified to tell other people about how to write and publish, whether or not their degree of knowledge on that subject is greater than or equal to the average ass of the average rat.
I know of two blogs in which 13 year old writers give advice on how to write novels. Dozens with invaluable insights on writing from high school kids. How many more with scintillating tips from people who just wrote their first book, or are going to finish it any day now, except blogging writing advice takes up so much of their time? Many of the newbie forums like Writers Digest are packed with total wannabes who have no sense of irony when it comes to contradicting published authors, even best-selling authors. The equality of information seems to reduce experience to the quotidian.
So, after flirting with anarchy in my last blog post, I’m now going to continue to obsess about rules, just like that lady who didth protest too much.
In my defence, rules are kind of fascinating, even when we disagree with them. I mean, how was it decided, for example, that in the English city of Chester, you can only shoot a Welsh person with a bow and arrow inside the city walls after midnight? Not even sure which part of that rule I disagree with most, especially since it’s apparently okay to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow in York at any time of day or night. Except Sundays. (Oh, that’s alright, then. And no, I promise I’m not making any of this up, you can check.)
But, back on track. My purposes here are to highlight a really cool link, in which the Guardian newspaper, following an excellent response by crime writer Elmore Leonard to a similar request, asked a bunch of accomplished writers to list up to ten “rules of writing” of their own. It really is an impressive list. Now, I could simply point you there and hope you go read them, but not only would this be a very short blog post, but the piece itself is very long, is in two parts, and honestly, even I am not that naive. So instead, I’ll grab a fairly random handful of these rules, and hold them up for inspection. As well as mockery. Okay, not mockery; some sporadic light teasing, perhaps. All done in a spirit of affection, of course. Continue reading “The Three Rs – Rules of Riting Revisited”